Truckstop J26 Diner’s response to posts on Twitter and Facebook about shower facilities

There have been posts on social media about shower facilities at the J26 Diner truckstop in Essex. We emailed Nick Thompson from the truckstop and asked about the facilities, and here is the response below. We’ve been invited to visit the truckstop, and we will do so the next time we are in the area.

They are free showers accessible all year, we have two open air outside summer showers, which drivers really seem to like. There are covered outside showers [the ones in the pics on Twitter]. We have 3 internal showers that currently are being refurbished. We have installed a complete water plant system to provide piping hot water at 3 bar pressure.

There’s an outdoor pots and pan wash with cold, and hot water for the continental drivers who cannot afford London food prices and who often cook a week’s worth of food at a time over the weekends. The total cost we’ve invested in these facilities is approx  £40,000. The site is located in the green belt and planning permission for new buildings is almost impossible.

We recently had an incident with [prominent British haulier] where an English driver defecated in our inside showers. The management of the company pleaded with me not to put this on social media, with the daughter of the company founder on the phone screaming at me. We had to clear his mess up, so yes [the outside covered showers] it is to prevent vandalism.

Our site is not a motor way services it is a private truck park, and we have operated it for 14 years now. Our weekly cost for maintaining, cleaning and fixing the vandalism in our toilet/shower block is in excess of £1500 a week.

We are one of the few truck park operators that have managed to stay operational. There is always a debate on the price of parking in the UK; the facts of the matter are we pay huge taxes in business rates and repair bills on toilets and showers that we provide for free. We provide fantastic food for the price included in the parking, and we’re full every night at 6-00pm Monday to Thursday. Friday to Sunday we are catering for 95% continental drivers who have a different requirement to UK-Dutch trampers.

What people often don’t realise is there are huge costs to cover. We would all like improved facilities and a certain standard. The truth is 40-50% of the price of parking  is VAT, business rates and taxes. For example, is it correct that we pay business rates of tax on toilet facilities we provide for free to drivers who need them? The situation for truckstops is not as clear it might appear. If it was, you would see more truck parks with fantastic facilities opening up where they are clearly needed, however that is not the case. This is probably due to land costs and planning restraints.

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